The dangers of dwelling: An examination of the relationship between rumination and consumptive coping in survivors of childhood sexual abuse

  • Sarin S
  • Nolen-Hoeksema S
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Childhood sexual abuse (CSA) is a non-specific risk factor for various maladaptive consummatory behaviours, such as binge eating and substance use. However, the mechanism by which CSA confers vulnerability to such behaviours remains unclear. CSA may lead to distress and then rumination, which in turn increases risk for engaging in consumption to cope. To test this theory, 603 community participants completed interview and self-report measures of sexual abuse, distress, rumination, and consumptive coping at three time points, one year apart. CSA survivors reported greater levels of distress, rumination and consumption (e.g., of food, alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, prescription and recreational drugs) to cope with distress than non-CSA survivors. In addition, results from structural equation modelling indicated that distress and rumination partially mediated the relationship between CSA and consumptive coping. These results suggest that CSA survivors may engage in maladaptive consummatory behaviours to manage distress and the psychological effects of rumination. © 2009 Psychology Press.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Childhood sexual abuse
  • Consummatory behaviours
  • Coping
  • Distress
  • Rumination

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  • Sabina Sarin

  • Susan Nolen-Hoeksema

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